Imagine the toll on India's intellectual life if scholars don't say the unspeakable because it isn't worth the trouble
In a country suffering from a chronic irony deficiency, it was no surprise that academic Ashis Nandy’s glib remark about corruption and caste, made at the just-concluded Jaipur Literature Festival, morphed into a gargantuan controversy, as though he had risen on a pulpit calling for a caste war in India. Assuming the intimate setting of a literature festival as something similar to the lawns of the India International Centre in Delhi—he was after all chatting with people he likely thinks of as friends, publisher Urvashi Butalia, journalists Tarun Tejpal and Ashutosh, and British writers Patrick French and Richard Sorabji—Nandy said, probably ironically, that some of India’s most disadvantaged groups were the most corrupt. He, of course, didn’t mean that quite so literally: Later he clarified that the corrupt from the so-called lower castes are more likely to get caught, unlike the corrupt among the elite, who have the means to cover their tracks.
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